After 30 years in U.S., metro Detroit immigrant deported to Mexico

DETROIT, MICH. - After 30 years of living in the U.S, a 39-year-old Lincoln Park man was deported this morning from Detroit Metro Airport to Mexico as family and friends wiped away tears. 

Jorge Garcia was brought to the U.S. by undocumented family members when he was 10 years old. Today the landscaper has a wife and two children,, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

In the past, Garcia, a child of undocumented immigrants, would have been allowed to stay in the U.S. But because of the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration, in November Garcia was ordered to return to Mexico. His supporters say he has no criminal record and paid taxes.  

Nevertheless, Garcia had to be removed, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On Monday morning, accompanied by ICE agents at Detroit Metro Airport, Garcia went through security as supporters around him held up signs that read, "Stop Separating Families."

"We love you, Jorge," said Mayra Valle of Detroit as Garcia hugged his wife and children. "They're a good family, they're hard-working. ... This is so sad. This is outrageous. We never expected this would happen."

Garcia's case is the latest example of immigrants who previously would have been allowed to remain in the U.S., but not now as the U.S. seeks to remove more immigrants. Garcia is too old to qualify for DACA, which allows the children of undocumented immigrants to legally work and study in the U.S.

Garcia said he had asked ICE if they could wait until new DACA legislation is passed, which might expand the age range for immigrants to qualify. But, he said, they refused and said he had to leave by Jan. 15.

"How do you do this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day?" said Erik Shelley, a leader with Michigan United, which advocates for immigrant rights and other issues. "It's another example of the tone-deafness of this administration. ... If Jorge isn't safe, no one is safe."

Shelley said he's concerned that minority immigrants are increasingly being targeted, citing remarks Trump has made about African and Hispanic immigrants.

Shelley was joined at the airport by other immigrant advocates and an official with the UAW, which has been supportive of Garcia.

A spokesman for ICE said he could not immediately comment Monday since it was a federal holiday, and their offices are closed. 

"I feel kind of sad," Garcia said Sunday night, his eyes welling up. "I got to leave my family behind, knowing that they're probably going to have a hard time adjusting. Me not being there for them for who knows how long. It's just hard."

Garcia is barred from entering the U.S. for at least 10 years.

Before he went through security, he hugged his two kids and wife, Cindy, who cried out and sobbed.

Jorge Garcia has never lived in Mexico as an adult and is worried about finding work and a new life.

"It's just a shame on this national (MLK) holiday when we're supposed to be celebrating diversity, the end of discrimination, the fight for civil rights, our nation is still targeting vulnerable families," said Adonis Flores, an immigrant rights leader at Michigan United. "It's one of thousands of cases who get deported every day. It's a shame the administration didn't even take today as a day to rest and stop separating families, but I'm not surprised."

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© 2018 Detroit Free Press


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